Dilibe Onyeama (1951 – 2022) — The Nation Editorial

By NewsBits

Dilibe Onyeama, author, publisher and arts enthusiast who was the first black boy to graduate at Eton, the elite British College for boys founded in 1440 by Henry VI just passed on. He had returned to Nigeria in 1981 and had written about 28 books, some of which have been published in at least four countries.

Dilibe came into global prominence after his first book, “Nigger at Eton” now published under another title, “Black boy at Eton” was published in Britain in 1974. The book was a chronicle of his experiences as a black boy in the elite British boarding school.

His father, Charles Dadi Onyeama, an Oxford graduate who went up to the Supreme Court of Nigeria and later became a judge at the International Criminal Court of Justice (ICCJ) at the Hague, had registered him at birth. This action opened the vista for the fame Dilibe went on to achieve in life.

Being a black boy at Eton exposed the young Dilibe to systemic racism and he documented his experiences that a magazine serialised to global attention. Indeed, there were attempts to suppress the publications because the establishment didn’t like the expositions. Eton under then headmaster, Michael McCrum, banned him from the school, an action that in a way gave an adult angle to his experiences.

His books stand as evidence of his literary power, bravery, survivalist instincts, perseverance and sense of black nationalism. His 1976 book, ‘Sex is a Nigger’s Game’ roused further attention. Dilibe was not just a literary giant steeped in journalistic excellence; he used writing and his publishing company to ‘fight’ his Pan-Africanist racial battles. His focus was in proving to racists everywhere that intellectual prowess, entertainment talents and sports ingenuity was not exclusive to any race.  At Eton, he fought racism with everything he had, brain, physical strength and social and emotional intelligence.

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